Diagnosing hearing loss by yourself is virtually impossible. As an example, you can’t really measure your level of hearing by simply putting your ear next to a speaker. So getting your hearing tested will be essential in figuring out what’s happening with your hearing.
But there’s no need to be concerned or stress because a hearing test is about as simple as putting on a high-tech set of headphones.
But we get it, no one likes tests. Whether you’re a student or middle-aged medical patient, tests are really just no fun. Taking a little time to get to know these tests can help you feel more prepared and, as a result, more comfortable. A hearing test is about the easiest test you’ll ever take!
How is a hearing test done?
Talking about making an appointment to get a hearing test is something that is not that uncommon. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably talked about from time to time. You might even be thinking, well, what are the two types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s not quite accurate. Because you might undergo a few different kinds of hearing tests, as it turns out. Each of them is designed to measure something different or give you a specific result. The hearing tests you’re most likely to encounter include the following:
- Pure-tone audiometry: Most people are most likely familiar with this hearing test. You listen for a tone on a set of headphones. Hear a tone in your right ear? Raise your right hand. Hear the pitch in your left ear? Same thing! With this, we can establish which frequencies and volumes of sound you’re able to hear. And if you have more profound hearing loss in one ear, this test will also determine that.
- Speech audiometry: In some cases, you can hear tones really well, but hearing speech remains something of a challenge. That’s because speech is generally more complex! During a speech audiometry test, you’ll be led into a quiet room and will, again, be instructed to don some headphones. You will listen to speech at various volumes to determine the lowest level you can hear words and clearly comprehend them.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Of course, real-world conversations almost never happen in a vacuum. A speech and noise-in-words test will go through the same process as speech audiometry, but the test occurs in a noisy room instead of a quiet one. This can help you figure out how well your hearing is working in real-world scenarios.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is made to measure the performance of your inner ear. A little sensor is placed near your cochlea and another is put on your forehead. A small device then receives sounds. How effectively sound vibrations travel through the ear is tracked by this test. This test can usually identify whether there is a blockage in your ear (ex: if you can’t hear, but your inner ear is working fine there may be some sort of obstruction blocking the sounds).
- Tympanometry: Sometimes, we’ll want to test the general health of your eardrum. This is accomplished using a test called tympanometry. Air will be gently blown into your ear so that we can measure how much movement your eardrum has. If you have fluid behind your eardrum, or a hole in your eardrum, this is the test that will reveal that.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: A tiny device measures the muscle feedback of your inner ear after delivering sound to it. It all happens by reflex, which means that your muscle movements can tell us a lot about how well your middle ear is functioning.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): An ABR test tries to measure how well the brain and inner ear are responding to sound. This is achieved by putting a couple of strategically placed electrodes on the outside of your skull. Don’t worry, though! This test is totally painless. That’s why everyone from newborns to grandparents get this test.
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This type of testing will help determine if your inner ear and cochlea are working properly. It does this by measuring the sound waves that echo back from your inner ear into your middle ear. If your cochlea isn’t working efficiently or there’s an obstruction, this test will detect it.
What do the results of hearing tests reveal?
It’s likely, you usually won’t take every single one of these hearing tests. Generally, your specific symptoms will determine which of these tests will be relevant.
What do we look for in a hearing test? A hearing test can sometimes reveal the cause of your hearing loss. In other cases, the test you take might simply eliminate other possible causes. Essentially, we will get to the bottom of any hearing loss symptoms you are noticing.
Here are a few things that your hearing test can reveal:
- Whether you’re experiencing symptoms associated with hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
- Which treatment approach is best for your hearing loss: We will be more successfully able to treat your hearing loss once we’ve established the cause.
- Whether your hearing loss is in a specific frequency range.
- How much your hearing loss has advanced and how serious it is.
What’s the difference between a hearing test and a hearing screening? It’s sort of like the difference between a quiz and a test. A screening is very superficial. A test is a lot more in-depth and can provide usable data.
It’s best to get a hearing test as soon as possible
That’s why it’s essential to schedule a hearing test as soon as you observe symptoms. Take it easy, you won’t have to study, and the test isn’t stressful. And the tests aren’t painful or invasive. If you’re wondering, what you shouldn’t do before you get a hearing test, don’t worry, we will provide you with all of that information.
Which means hearing tests are pretty easy, all you need to do is schedule them.